Tyranids In 9th Edition: First Thoughts

Hey everyone, Erik from The Art of War here! Today welcoming you into the Hivemind and sharing with you all my first thoughts on my favorite 40k faction in 9th edition, The Tyranids. 

To kick us off, I want to restore some confidence in a lot of my fellow Tyranid players and assure you that the 9th edition is not as doom and gloom as everyone may first believe, even though my favorite archetype has taken a massive hit being the “gaunt carpet.” The new state of the game has opened up many different unit options and list combinations that were normally unplayable in 8th edition. I believe this is because, with the new mission set, there is no real emphasis on having to kill units in your opponent’s army every turn, which I am incredibly grateful for because it is something Tyranid lists struggle with. Nine times out of ten our damage dealers are quite difficult to protect from damage. You find yourself in this vicious cycle of trading units with your opponent, but because we have a lack of survivability on our damage dealers, we almost always lose this trading game, which is why there has always been this crazy idea around Tyranids being a lousy faction. 


While I am still experimenting with all sorts of crazy list ideas, after playing several 9th edition games, there is a HUGE emphasis around board control. In my personal experience, Tyranids have many incredible ways of projecting board control. These take the form of Metabolic Overdrive, the Swarmlord ability to double move, and Opportunistic Advance for the Kraken hive fleet. The ability to slingshot small, cheap troop units that are also immune to morale to roadblock critical enemy units is a major edge for the army. All these different options of projecting board control give Tyranids quite a unique way of fighting their opponents that has become so much more relevant with the new edition. While a lot of your games may end in you losing a large number of your units and doing minimal damage to your opponent, for the ‘nids it’s all about scoring, so keeping your opponent jammed into their own deployment zone and limiting the number of turns they can effectively move around the table is such a great tool to have in your arsenal, especially with the pivot into a five turn game. 

Now that we’ve touched on why I think Tyranids will fair quite well in the new edition, let’s explore some of the units and list ideas that I believe will have some pretty serious play. 

I’ll start with what I am thinking is the more obvious choice for me going into 9th. This is based on what I believe the strongest army lists in 9th will be relatively balanced lists, including a number of ways to project some fast combat threats while maintaining some maneuverable small arms firepower to skirmish with the enemy in the middle of the board. This small amount of shooting gives you the ability to clear screens, clean up bits and pieces holding objectives and hopefully open up some space to force the assault pressure that ‘nids can bring to the table. 


So, based on that, the list idea I think really fits that concept is in the form of MSU (multiple small units) Tyranid Warriors. Now, MSU warriors doesn’t mean you need to spam three-man (three-xenos?) units, but I certainly would be avoiding hitting that six-man unit, multiple five-man squads is probably the sweet spot, possibly with one larger unit of 9 to make solid use of the shoot twice stratagem that we have access to. Now, all these warrior units, assuming they are equipped with lash whips and bone swords, as well as death spitters, really makes them super flexible in what they can do while being a self-functioning synapse unit. There really aren’t any auras these models have to plant themselves around. Of course, the Tyranid Prime buff is incredible on these squads, but it isn’t important enough to limit your movement capabilities and allowing yourself to be all over the board and alternating where you can generate threats, so it’s similar to how the “tendril” idea worked on the gaunts but instead these are all different units. As it stands, Tyranid Warriors are the standout winners of 9th edition for the Tyranids, but there are also some really cool and interesting units that we would see in support of this type of list. 

Next on the list is something we haven’t seen much of at all, even when Tyranids received some nice extra rules from psychic awakening, and that unit is the Toxicrene. While the Toxicrene has not been given any natural benefit to its survivability, but it’s now easier to escort this model into combats by using the new terrain rules and keeping him behind 5″ high obscuring terrain. The reason why a unit is because of its ability to snare enemy units in combat. Being on such a large base it is quite possible to tag multiple units and keep them locked in combat. This is such a huge deal because of the added difficulty of trying to “tripoint” enemy units in close combat. It’s also quite easy to slot this guy into a Kraken list with the Swarmlord and turbo boost this guy across the table to shut down some critical units shooting abilities for a turn, which, as any Tyranid player would know, is worth so much to you.


There are several other units I can see having some real impact in the new edition, though they do not have as much significant impact like warriors and Toxicrenes. These units have just been naturally buffed by terrain rules or by the importance of board control. Things like Tyrant Guard, especially when given the ignore ap 1 and ap 2 buff, start getting pretty resilient, especially when they park themselves in terrain. A unit we probably haven’t seen for a good while that I believe will resurface is the Flying Hive Tyrant. The new obscuring rules bring these guys back into the game, and with such a great threat range, they are excellent midfield bully units. 

Finally, there is one unit that I genuinely think will see the table in the new edition. This one may seem crazy, but for its current points cost with 4 wounds and the ability to project decent shooting that threatens screens, they become just quite a handy unit to include in lists, and that is the Pyrovore. Now I’m not saying this unit is top tier, but I definitely think it has its place in lists now. They are very cheap for the number of wounds they have and are relatively annoying to shoot at when you stack things like -1 to hit and a 6+ feel no pain save through Leviathan. Plus, if they do remain untouched because they aren’t seen as a threat, they are such an annoying midfield bully unit, especially for other hordey type board control lists like orks, gsc, and daemons. 

All in all, I’m very happy with where Tyranids are sitting entering 9th edition. I think they’re going to pose a threat to the top tier codexes purely based on how the mission system operates and the emphasis around board control, and in my mind, no one is more flexible in how they can control that part of the game. 

For those of you not signed up for the War Room, I suggest checking it out. You can see more of what Art of War offers on our website https://theartofwar40k.com/meet-the-team. There’s a lot of fresh content to come this year, especially from my fellow Aussies. Stay tuned to see where I take Tyranids in the new tournament season! 


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